By Sadie Hess
I am turning 50 this June. Instead of feeling melancholy about turning 50 and focusing on the changes that come with growing older, I choose to focus on what is ahead. It can be easy to emphasize on loss, but it can be more challenging and rewarding to think about what is ahead of you. I have chosen the phrase ‘The second half, the best half’.
Since the first 50 can seem like they happen to you, I am looking at the second half as what do I want to happen? Asking the question where I want to focus my energy? What kind of legacy do I want to leave? I have a goal of having a long life and embracing joy in all the chapters to come. I want to concentrate on health and sustainability, the longevity of a joyful life, and intentionality for the next 50 years.
But before I move forward, I want to go back. Five decades of life should be fully celebrated. In true Sadie fashion, this calls for five parties. Parties representing each decade. Celebrating family, the knowledge gained, the trials overcome, the friendships formed along the way, and the joy I have found in each chapter.
Party #1 My first decade of life. Childhood. I will be celebrating being young and what my family gave me. My Dad has told me often that the best day of his life was the day I was born. Dad’s message to me was you are loved and wanted. Growing up knowing I was unconditionally loved and belonged gave me a carefree childhood. It gave me the ability to dream without limitations. It gave me strength, determination, and grit. My dad worked hard, he left before I woke up in the morning and worked all day until dark. That gave me a strong work ethic and an appreciation for sticking with what you started. My mom loved to host, and people were always welcome–the more, the merrier. We didn’t have much, but we were always willing to share it. My family gave me a sense of belonging, acceptance, and unconditional love. It is always something I am trying to create at Compass. I desire environments where people are known and feel a sense of belonging. Compass reflects a lot of the values I gleaned from my family in childhood in the way we do community, generosity, and celebration. This party will have family, retro candy, and water slides. 50-year-old me will be going down the water slides and embracing the fun and joy of this decade.
Party #2 My 20’s, a decade of learning and growing. This will be my Compass party. In my twenties was when I found my passion in life. One of my professors in college said “We all look for the will of God, but it’s not a place. It is a journey; it is when you ask God daily what He has in store for you. When you put your trust in God daily, that is the will of God”. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was already in the middle of my destiny. In my senior year, I needed a paid internship as a psychology major, so I chose to work with individuals with disabilities. I walked alongside two women as their caregiver. Watching them in their daily life humbled me and I realized I had so much to learn from people with disabilities. This was a pilot project, and I became a social worker within two weeks of graduation. A year later the pilot program closed, but it was too late! I was hooked. I loved working with people with disabilities and the people who work with them. At 23, I started Compass with my dear friend Joanne. It has been 27 years and I am still thrilled to be in my destiny. My Compass party will be food trucks in the park with the Compass community. It will be a celebration of all the blood, sweat, tears, and grit it has taken to create the Compass we have today. It will be a celebration of trust, faith, courage, and perseverance.
Party #3 My 30’s, a decade of new beginnings. It was the decade of growing a family. Eric and I married when I was 28 and I had our firstborn Trinity when I was 30 and thus the baby and toddler years began. Ryan followed 18 months later, and Elayna completed our family when I was 35. My 30’s were growing family, friendships, and Compass. My 30’s were strollers, diaper bags, business trips with babies in tow, wiggles songs, silly dances, meal planning, birthday parties, calendaring every minute, and a kid on my hip while on conference calls. Phone calls or dinners with friends to talk about the highs and lows of motherhood were rare but treasured. In your 30’s you begin to know yourself and become rooted in friendships and family. You form traditions with family and friends that will last a lifetime. This will be my trip to Vegas with my best friend who has been there at the birth of every child. We went when I was pregnant with Trinity at thirty, so it only seems fitting to return.
Party #4 My 40’s, a decade of becoming a family unit. The era of Hess if you will. This was a decade of establishing our family. It was watching our kids grow up and parenting with purpose. The kid’s sporting events, theatre performances, recitals and practices, accolades, and achievements. Family trips and adventuring together. Countless activities and an abundance of laughter. The pure joy of watching our kids become extraordinary individuals. The hard moments of the pandemic and somehow always finding the good in the hard as a family. Dreaming together as a family. Building our traditions and core values as a family. We often say what does it mean to be a Hess? My 40’s were my favorite chapter to this point. My 40’s contain some of my most cherished memories. This decade’s party called for a backpacking trip through Europe with our family. What better way to celebrate than going on our biggest and most daring adventure yet as a family? Everything we need on our backs and our feet in the dust exploring places we have never seen. Into the unknown, embracing all the joy in the newness of this season and celebrating who we are as a family and who we are growing into.
Party #5 Turning 50. This is the decade of looking forward to what is ahead. This party will be a small gathering with people who are close to my age with kids close to my kid’s age. The word empty nester is all about loss and not about gain. I refuse to be an empty nester. I want to look at what will be gained in my 50’s. The freedom of time. Finding new hobbies, I never knew I would love. The relationships I will have with my adult children and their families. The dreams we have as a family big and small. Strengthening connections and creating healthy habits for long life. The wealth of friends and family and sharing in all their celebrations. I want to be known as someone who is intentionally going after my next phase in life whatever that may be. It will be a night of looking forward with hope and faith.
Looking back in celebration sets you up to get excited about looking forward. Celebrations are like milestones in life, and they become a place for our memories to land. It is important to remember and celebrate the decades, milestones, choices, and moments which made me who I am. Celebrations are an opportunity to deepen bonds by bringing people together. Life is a continuous journey, divided by moments of pain and of joy. Celebrations are the milestones along this journey, chances to stop and reflect on life, and on the person who has lived it. Celebrating the markers of our lives acknowledges who we were, and who we are and nurtures who we are going to be. My first 50 years were phenomenal. Bring on the next 50 years, I really do believe the best is yet to be!